Global iPals

This project began in the 2009-2010 school year as iPals which focused on cultural diversity, the arts, and technology. The NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education awarded a continuation grant in the amount of $4,347 to Susan Wahling of the Washington Elementary School in Bergen County to continue this program as Global iPals.

This continuation project involves a group of 30 fifth-grade students learning to create photo essays, and then using that skill to communicate with two partner schools: the first is in a small farming town in Iowa and the second is in a large city in Holland. Students utilize digital storytelling and podcasting skills that were learned through the established project.

In September, a potluck supper is held to orient the group. Classrooms are connected via Skype for the groups to meet. Student work is displayed throughout the school and posted on a student-created blog. Long-distance planning is done through a project Ning.

At its core, Global iPals encourages children to explore their world as they create three types of photo essays based on their own lives, and then to use their images as catalysts for verbal and written expression. Photographs give teachers a glimpse into their students’ lives and, in increasingly diverse classrooms, give students a way to understand each other’s experiences.

Students participate in four workshops that are followed up with an assignment to create a photo essay to share with the partner schools. The last workshop is presented in the local library and opens with a reception for the community. A “Gallery Walk” is featured as an opportunity for viewers to leave written comments.

Pre- and post-tests are developed and implemented, along with rubrics, to evaluate the project.

For further information, contact:

Susan Wahling
School - (201) 664-6440